Guest post by Andrea Lehmkuhler

When I was in college, I worked for several years in the accounting department of a real estate company. I was surrounded by people negotiating high end property deals, yet often found myself negotiating in a smaller, yet still meaningful realm of my own. 

I came to enjoy my own personal victories – getting ‘fluff’ fees waived from equipment bills, the power of a well crafted email or phone call when negotiating terms, and the importance in offering authenticity in work relationships.

My job today is completely different than it was before and yet I often find myself using and sharpening the same tools that I did years ago.  The only difference is that the stakes are much higher and the payoff much sweeter.

Here’s what I stick to when I negotiate:

1.    Believe that there is a solution to be found that is mutually beneficial for both parties involved. Look for that solution.

Too often people see negotiation as two people on opposite sides. This is most often the least effective way to look at. You must operate under the idea that you are on the same side and you are convinced that there is a solution to be found.  I often times introduce a problem with this tag phrase: ‘I have this problem and I could really use your help.’ This sets up the conversation for problem solving together, not against one another.

2.    Be persistant. Be persistant. Be persistant.

I try to, but I really can’t stress this enough.  You must be willing to ask multiple times. You must be willing to hear ‘no’ or ‘I don’t think that will work.’ You must be willing to follow up for weeks or even months on end if it is important to you. It is easy to move on to the next thing; it is wise to wager the short amount of time it often takes to follow up, and try again. I stress this because the majority of the most successful deals I’ve been able to make have not been made with the first, second or even third contact.

Lastly, there is one thing negotiation is not about and that is manipulation. I shouldn’t plan my next move based on thinking I can get someone to respond a certain way. My ultimate goal is to not win one battle, but to strengthen my business relationships for many, many more interactions and successes.

What is your best tip for negotiation in your own business?
What do you respond to best to when someone is working on a problem with you?